I started this update on the 12th of August but somehow got sidetracked and ran out of time. I am heading for Canada this afternoon to visit my confrere and colleague Fr. Guy who has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I have an 8am Mass and will then come home, leave my church stuff here and will be taken to the airport by Bishop Lobinger. I will arrive in Montreal tomorrow and will be back in SA on the 9th of Oct. I will try to catch you up again then. In the meantime, love and Peace, Cas. (Here's what I put together till now--below)
Sept. 14th, 2015
Holy Moses, more than a month has gone by and I have been very slack about keeping up my blog. Lots has happened, for all of us, this past month.
Well, let’s start with the memory stick that I spent so much on. The dirty rat didn’t tell me that it only transfers pictures, not text. Too late to take it back. I am counting on Katrina, my grand niece, to get me ready for next year. We both noticed that time is flying. She has been here already 8 months and there are still many things and people that she must experience and meet. One must is a week in a village to see the real Africa. I will organize that next week when I go to Mthatha for a BOM meeting with Guy’s boys at the new Sabelani Home.
I invited my old friend, Shirley Howells, to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate her 81st birthday. She still teaches art to a few students to be able to cover expenses. Why is it that some people have to work till they drop. She knows that if push came to shove her sons would certainly take care of her but you know how we all are. We like to help but don’t like to be helped. We can do it ourselves. We like to be in control, don’t we!!!
That was on August 15th. It was also her 43rd anniversary of being received into the Catholic church at an all African parish. Wow! With all the ups and downs of life, the faith has managed to stay stuck.
Aside from all the ordinary stuff, like Sunday Masses at Savannah Park, with the sisters at the cottage at the hospital, taking an occasional class with the novices, having a Mass for Matric (senior year) students from Holy Family School, etc, etc. etc. the main event of the week was the funeral of Fr. Cyril Malinga who was the Canon Lawyer who helped Fr. Guy in his case with the bishop of Mthatha, having received instructions from the CMM Generalate to get him to take up the case. He wasn’t 50 yet but was a hard worker and was known as one of the best Canon Lawyers in South Africa. I visited him several times in the hospital when he was in a coma (which he never came out of). I would pray in his ear as there was no response otherwise, hoping that he could hear and be comforted by my and the Lord’s presence. There were well over a hundred priests and several bishops at his funeral, not that that means anything special. I don’t think that there were any bishops at my mom’s funeral but I know that were she is she is looking down on Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and us priests and religious.
On Saturday, the 21st of August, my niece, Ann, a medical doctor, arrived by plane here in Durban, to visit her daughter, Katrina, the one who is the volunteer at the orphanage here at Mariannhill. She had a few tons of stuff that she brought for the kids, and we had to stuff two cars with these things, my little Hyundai, and her rented car. Katrina was delighted because she has felt deprived as she had no vehicle to drive and didn’t want to drive mine because it is a stick shift and we drive on the other side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side. At least with this rent a car it was an automatic. She confidently said I could go ahead and head for home and she knew the way. Clever girl. So she was in her glory as she chauffeured he mom and her aunt (who came two days later) around this area of South Africs. They spent a couple of nights in a game park, and another couple of nights at St. Lucia, which is a World Heritage Site, among other things, a fresh water lagoon that lies next to the Indian Ocean, and which is home to many Hippos. Then they spent a couple of nights and days at a place called Ballito where they had a flat overlooking the sea. Katrina and her aunt spent most of the time in the water while Ann chilled out reading. I was able to get free for one afternoon and an overnighter and came up to join them and have a meal together and some time to catch up on each other’s lives.
I hadn’t been in the sea for a long time and Ann and I went down to take a dip. I love the sea and love to do body surfing. I forgot that I am almost 80yrs. old now and not as fit as I used to be when I was a very young 40 or so. Ha! I caught a wave, and it also caught me, and spun me around, and knocked me about, and deposited me on the beach with sand having gone into all human orifices ( I won’t go into detail). While I was contemplating this situation, on my hands and knees, trying to stand up, another wave came and sent me flying further up the beach. Once again, as I tried to get up, ha, another wave sent bashed me eve further up the beach, and I really struggled to get up but couldn’t. A young man next to me asked if I needed some help and I said yes, yes, yes. He held out his arm and I grabbed on and manage to get to me feet that way. I think that this episode would have made a great hit on “funny videos” or something like that. I must have twisted my knee in my efforts to get myself right side up as I have been having trouble with my left knee the past few days. I get these jerky spasms , especially at night, and eventually got myself something like and Ace Bandage (stretch bandage) and some gel to put some heat on that knee and calm it down. I also discovered that one of the possible reasons for that is a lack of Magnesium . I looked it up on Google and found out that there are no special foods that you can eat to up your supply but you have to go to the chemist shop (pharmacy) to get some capsules that you take before meals. I think that they are helping and I take them especially when I am out cutting the grass or doing some other strenuous exercise where you use muscles (that you are not normally used to using, Ha again,).
After their stint at the sea, the three of them went up to the Drakensberg mountains and were enthralled by the beauty. There was no snow but the weather was pleasant except in the early morning where it was pretty cold.
They enjoyed the time here. The last few days I dragged them to friends so that they could see who my family is here on this side of the ocean. I have been blessed both ways---a fantastic family at home in the States, and solid friends who have become my surrogate family here in Africa (next year I will have been here for 50 yrs. ). So both families met each other and shared a few moments of each other’s lives, over some delicious meals.
In the meantime, I was busy with lots of other things.
On August 22nd we buried Br. Eric. He had celebrated his 84th birthday not too long before. But he suffered from dementia and slowly but surely went downhill till he had to go to the hospital and it was there, after a bit less than two weeks that he passed away quietly. He had been the one in charge of our house here, called Mater Dolorosa (Mother of Sorrows). Bad name for a house like ours, I think. He had to do the buying and maintaining, etc. but it was getting too much for him and, after answering his plea to get a replacement, Br. Lloyd, a Zimbabwean came and took over about a year ago.
As you know, I am up early (usually between 4 and 4:30am) and I go down to the kitchen to have a bowl of Bran Flakes. You know what that is supposed to be for! Well, often, I would find Br. Eric going down the hall naked from the waist down and it was in winter and was cold. When I would ask where he was going, he would say, maybe, to his room, but he was going in the wrong direction. He once said, when I found him in the hallway, going, again in the opposite direction to his room, I asked why he was out in the hall. He said that he had to pee. I said the hall isn’t the place to pee, let’s go to your room. Well, by the time I got his pants down and his underwear down and, lo and behold, a nappie with Velcro clasps, it he had to do that by himself, it would have been way too late. But the best was when I was showing a couple of nuns around the place, one an African and the other a so-called coloured, we met Br. Eric in the sitting room. Unfortunately, he had taken his pants and underwear off and was standing there, like that when we walked in. Before I could try to explain anything, the African sister went to the other end of the room where his pants were lying, where he had taken them off, brought I got most of it cut that week and just today I finished a part that was growing too fast.
There have been reports of some kind of Satanism in the nurses quarters that was slipping into the hospital. The chaplain organized for several of us priests (and even a retired bishop) to join in a Mass for the patients, to protect them against and the possible harm and hurt of these evil spirits. I took the maternity ward, the children’s ward, and 4 other medical wards. I explain at each place that we are sent by the authorities to pray for them, the patients, that they not be bothered with bad spirits, but that they may find healing here and go back home to look after their families. After hearing the explanation, they are all happy to be prayed for, not just Catholics. No one objects to any priest or minister coming to pray for them . I also remind them that we pray for them every day in our chapel so that they can hurry up and get healed and get back to their families where they are being waited for as much as they are longing to be back home.
Last Sunday I took a mass in German for the German community, including families with kids who go to German school and who are sent back to German speaking Europe to spend time with their grandparents or aunts and uncles and cousins. I surprised myself by getting through it without a hitch.